An investigation of the role of some person and situation variables in multiple cue probability learning

Bayindir M., Bolger F., Say B.

QUARTERLY JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY, vol.70, no.1, pp.36-52, 2017 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier


Making decisions using judgements of multiple non-deterministic indicators is an important task, both in everyday and professional life. Learning of such decision making has often been studied as the mapping of stimuli (cues) to an environmental variable (criterion); however, little attention has been paid to the effects of situation-by-person interactions on this learning. Accordingly, we manipulated cue and feedback presentation mode (graphic or numeric) and task difficulty, and measured individual differences in working memory capacity (WMC). We predicted that graphic presentation, fewer cues, and elevated WMC would facilitate learning, and that person and task characteristics would interact such that presentation mode compatible with the decision maker's cognitive capability (enhanced visual or verbal WMC) would assist learning, particularly for more difficult tasks. We found our predicted main effects, but no significant interactions, except that those with greater WMC benefited to a larger extent with graphic than with numeric presentation, regardless of which type of working memory was enhanced or number of cues. Our findings suggest that the conclusions of past research based predominantly on tasks using numeric presentation need to be reevaluated and cast light on how working memory helps us learn multiple cue-criterion relationships, with implications for dual-process theories of cognition.